I’d like to welcome Liz from Everyday Goddess as my first guest writer here. She has put together some excellent information about her experience of setting up and placing a Prosper.com loan request on auction (I also highly recommend her blog if you’re in need of getting away from personal finances for awhile). Enjoy:
As a personal blogger, I blog about my romantic life, my childhood traumas, my bad days and the band that’s playing downtown this Saturday. I’m sure a whole lot of it seems really, really intimate. But what’s truly the most intimate, what I find most difficult (read: terrifying) to blog about, is my finances.
See, I’m not in the best financial situation (read: debt-ridden). I struggle to make good choices and to learn from my mistakes. I have credit cards and loans and school debt. Sometimes, I screw up. Sometimes, I have a small financial success. And I blog about it because I’m betting that I’m not alone.
Sometimes, I blog about it because high-interest rate credit cards are evil. Oh, I’ve stood at the edge of the whirlpool. In fact, it’s still right over there.
The trick, of course, is lower interest rates. You know, those great rates all those financially solvent people get? They make it MUCH EASIER to actually pay off debt. Ever so slowly, I’ve been trying to roll all my debt into lower-interest rate loans.
So I was particularly interested in prosper.com.
The premise being, individuals funding individuals. Adding a level of personal connection. Bypassing the corporate behemoths.
I decided to check it out, and I decided to give it a try. As a borrower, of course.
The first thing I did was extensively check out the site. It all seemed simple enough. Most important, I learned that the loans are all three-year loans. So you have to borrow an amount that you can afford to pay off within three years. I also did the basic site registration (just setting up a user name/password). And I learned that payments are made through automatic monthly deductions to your bank account. Cool.
Next, I explored the “groups” on Prosper. This is one of their basic concepts. That people will form groups, and overtime, groups will gain a good payback reputation and therefore earn lower interest rates. Also, groups will provide a personal connection which creates social pressure for people to pay back their debts.
That all makes sense, but I couldn’t really find a group. First of all, it’s not like I know anyone in any of the groups. Still, maybe if there was one for my school, or a professional organization that I belong to. But it’s new, so there’s not, and I’m not interested in forming my own either. Further, I thought, a good group leader would probably call me, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone! A group that just accepted me without contact – probably destined to not be a good group. This is also why I didn’t want to start a new group. Because to do it right, I would want to really talk to anyone before accepting them, and I don’t want to deal with that.
So, I decided to stick my toe in the water on my own. Onto the real registration I went. Social security number. Driver’s license. Income.
And before long, I had a big, fat “C” rating, and I was looking at my 27% debt-to-income ratio. “Wow. I totally suck,” I thought.
To make matters worse, my highest financial priority is to roll a debt that is currently at 10%. There’s an account opened long ago! See, it has an ex-boyfriend on it, and it’s not his debt. But because my situation is much worse than it was back then, any opportunities I’ve had are at higher rates. They’ve closed the account for me, but they won’t remove his name (read: his liability). So, I chip away at it every month. And I’ve got three more years to go.
I took my “C” rating, and my hefty ratio, and I decided to lead with that. I like to aim high.
Creating the listing was quite easy. I even went back and forth between the various steps a few times to change things. At first, I listed at 10%, but with the Prosper fee, it became more like 10.6%, so I went back and changed it to 9%, so that it’s closer to 10% in actual. You’re given the opportunity to add pictures, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about putting a picture of myself up with it, so I used a dragonfly graphic. (I did wonder if pretty girls get better rates!) Best of all, you get to write out your request and talk about what you need and why, etc. I thought about linking to my blog – kinda like, hey, you’ll know where I live – but, for this go ’round, I didn’t. Honestly, it was a bit of wanting to stay more anonymous on the site. Of course, then I went and blogged about it on my not-private blog. That’s personal bloggers for you!
So my dream listing is up. As of writing this, I have a nibble! And twelve days to go on my listing.
The site is brand new, and I really like that. Getting involved and jumping on and participating helps get it rolling. Plus, if I can get a loan at this early stage and start paying on it, as the site matures, I assume that my good payment habits will look good for me. I can build a history. Maybe join a group. And just like on ebay, I got my user name locked in. Yeah, baby!
Finally, it is my hope that someday I will turn the tide, and I will have the ability to be a lender on Prosper. Because it’s brand new, and already it feels more like people than behemoth.